Limited Guide to Streets of New Capenna

Tzu-Mainn Chen
April 22, 2022
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Magic has delved into some pretty wild genres and settings over the past few years, but none may be as strange as the Streets of New Capenna. New Capenna is a plane dominated by five demonic crime syndicates with a mysterious past that promises to spark a wild future. The aesthetic is Roaring 20s, the mood is corruption and excess, and the cards… well, I can’t wait to take them out for a spin!


Mechanics and Themes


Alliance


 


The Alliance mechanic is simple: cards with Alliance trigger when a creature enters the battlefield on your side. The complexity comes from the fact that many Alliance cards become much stronger when they trigger multiple times in a turn. That creates an interesting decision point: strengthen your board now as much as possible now, or wait until an opportune time to dance over your opponent with a wave of Alliance effects? The answer is situation dependent, but a third alternative splits the difference nicely: simply look for cards that make multiple creatures at once!


Alliance cards are found in the Cabaretti faction colors of Green, Red, and White. 


Blitz


 


Some players just want to attack and attack and attack. If you’re one such player you’ll love the Blitz mechanic, as it enables you to cast a creature for a cheaper cost and with haste. The downside? The creature dies at the end of the turn. The additional upside? When it dies (even due to combat damage), you’ll draw a card. Determining when to Blitz a creature out and when to cast it normally so that it survives for multiple turns will be a key strategic decision in many SNC games.


Cards with Blitz are found in the Riveteer faction colors of Red, Black, and Green.


Casualty


 


Magic has a long history of including strategies that encourage you to sacrifice your own creatures, and Casualty is an interesting iteration on that idea. Spells with Casualty X can be copied once simply by sacrificing a creature with power X or greater. It’s a powerful thing to do, and encourages you to look at your creatures quite differently: are they more valuable when providing board presence, or when used as fodder for a powerful spell?


Cards with Casualty are found in the Maestro faction colors of Black, Blue, and Red.


Connive


 


Looting - drawing a card and then discarding - is an ability that is often underestimated by newer players. Experienced players know the value of diving through your deck at warp speed, digging for bombs or removal or whatever the current board state requires. The Connive mechanic is even more powerful: not only does it make your hand better, it buffs your creatures as well!


Cards with Connive are found in the Obscura faction colors of Blue, White, and Black.


Shield


 


Shield is a new type of counter with a straightforward and powerful effect: if a creature with a Shield counter would be damaged or destroyed, the Shield counter is removed instead. That simple ability turns all of your creatures with Shield counters into potential two-for-ones, making combat extremely difficult to navigate for your opponent. Note that you cannot choose when a Shield counter is removed; the first instance of damage will do so no matter what.


Cards working with Shield counters can be found in the Broker faction colors of White, Green, and Blue.


Hideaway


 


The crime families of New Capenna all have their own secrets and plots waiting to come into fruition, and Hideaway represents that idea very well. SNC has a cycle of rare Hideaway enchantments that let you tuck away a secret card and save it to cast for free in the future - as long as specific conditions are met. And what if you never reach those conditions? These enchantments still have positive effects that make them well worth putting into your deck.


Archetypes


SNC features five tri-color crime families, and it’s natural to assume that’s where an analysis of the set archetypes should begin. However in order to understand how the tri-color factions work, it’s important to understand that the building blocks of SNC are actually the five two-color allied pairs. Each of these pairs has their own identity, and each tri-color faction merges two allied pairs together, combining those identities into something new.


White/Blue: Counters ( Connive / Shield )


 


There’s a counter theme in SNC, but that seemingly simple concept veers off in two different directions. The Connive mechanic can buff a creature with a +1/+1 counter, and if you have Faerie Vandal in play then Connive may grant you two +1/+1 counters total. Then there are Shield counters which feel inherently protective, but can also be used offensively with creatures such as Dapper Shieldmate that encourage you to attack. Tying these counters together are cards which simply care about counters, no matter what they are. Exotic Pets is a great example, creating two unblockable threats that are immediately strengthened - if you have the right counters in play.


Blue/Black: Graveyard ( Casualty / Connive )


 


Magic has had sets that focus on various aspects of your graveyard before, but SNC tweaks that idea by caring about the mana costs of your departed cards. Snooping Newsie is a two mana enabler and payoff in that respect, milling you immediately while also becoming more powerful once you have five different mana costs in your graveyard. A Casualty card like A Little Chat will expedite that process by potentially sending two cards to the graveyard while refilling your hand. And if you find yourself needing to deal with your opponent’s creatures, Raffine’s Silencer is a talented creature that fills a billion different roles for your deck.


Black/Red: Sacrifice ( Blitz / Casualty )


 


The Black/Red sacrifice theme encourages you to think of your creatures as expendable resources with payoffs such as Forge Boss’s inexorable ticks of damage. And SNC gives you plenty of opportunities to sacrifice a creature. One method is through Blitz: Plasma Jockey makes its future sacrifice a foregone conclusion while also pushing damage for a turn. And then there are Casualty spells like Grisly Sigil which are cheap enough to make it possible to sacrifice your Blitz creatures who weren’t long for the world anyway.


Red/Green: Ramp ( Alliance / Blitz )


 


Red/Green is the color pair of getting big, and that’s what Stimulus Package gives you a chance to do: make Treasures and cast your big spells early. This enchantment also lets you sacrifice Treasure to create Citizen tokens instead of mana, which may seem like an odd option for a ramp deck. But keep in mind that you won’t always have a useful spell to cast with your Treasure; having a fallback option that triggers a powerful Alliance card like Elegant Entourage is ideal. And how does this all fit in with Blitz? Think of Blitz as a modal spell. Pugnacious Pugilist is fine if you get one use out of it at four mana; but it’s even better if you have the resources to cast it without Blitz, allowing you to swing with it multiple times.


Green/White: Citizens ( Shield / Alliance )




The Green/White theme is strangely specific: Citizens. SNC has both token and non-token Citizen creatures, and Darling of the Masses is a card that relates to both. It also plays well with the Alliance mechanic, pumping out creatures to trigger the buffs for cards such as Celebrity Fencer. But how does this color pair synergize with Shield? Well, you’ll often have specific creatures that are key to your strategy - for example, Voice of the Vermin, who protects itself while turning your small Citizen tokens into something much bigger. These creatures need to be protected above all else, and Shield counters are a great way to do so.


How do the Tri-Color factions merge these themes together?


White/Blue/Black: Obscura ( Connive - Counters / Graveyard )


 


White/Blue/Black decks are often control decks, but an Obscura deck wants to win along a different axis: evasive creatures, plus the use of Connive to buff those creatures while digging for cards appropriate for the current situation. Metropolis Angel and Syndicate Infiltrator exemplify this strategy: fliers who both benefit from Connive in different ways. However one issue with evasive decks is that they can often get run over by Green decks that go bigger and hit harder. That’s why Queza, Augur of Agonies works so well: it gives an Obscura deck a secondary game plan that plays more defensively while draining the opponent out.


Blue/Black/Red: Maestros ( Casualty - Graveyard / Sacrifice )


 


The Maestros deck is slow and patient, building up value that eventually becomes too much for an opponent to overcome. That value can come in a variety of ways: card advantage (or graveyard-filling) with Tainted Indulgence, or an inexorably growing threat such as Body Dropper. And Cornela, Glamour Thief allows you to ramp out your expensive Casualty spells while also providing value when you inevitably sacrifice her to gain victory at any cost.


Black/Red/Green: Riveteers ( Blitz - Sacrifice / Ramp )


 


The Riveteers do not take the subtle approach to their problems. Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder is built for attacking, and that’s all he asks you to do. Combine his ability with Blitz creatures and you stampede through your opponent’s defenses. Even an aggressive deck may need some way to deal with an opponent’s threats however, and a removal spell like Fatal Grudge is a perfect way to turn a soon-to-be-sacrificed Blitz creature into additional card advantage. But what if you find yourself needing a more permanent board presence? Just create some Treasure with Red/Green cards and summon a 5/4 Security Rhox way below curve.


Red/Green/White: Cabaretti ( Alliance - Ramp / Citizens )


 


The Cabaretti want to ensure that the party never stops, and the best way to do so is to create an endless stream of creatures. Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer is an excellent way to do so - as long as you have enough lands or Treasures to pay for the party. Doing so is an easy way to ensure a double Alliance trigger. Your horde of creatures does run the risk of being stonewalled by a large defensive body however, so having a way to buff them is a good fallback plan. Jetmir’s Fixer can grow far beyond its initial two mana cost, while Ceremonial Groundbreaker will turn even the lowliest 1/1 Citizen token into a threat that your opponent must deal with.


Green/White/Blue: Brokers ( Shield - Citizens / Counters )


 


The Brokers’ combination of Shield counters with a Citizen army does not seem like a natural pairing for a variety of reasons. Shield counters are not free, so it’s unlikely you’ll have enough to spread among a wide board. And why would you want to protect a 1/1 Citizen token anyway? The answer lies in cards such as Civil Servant: a cheap creature that can nevertheless grow very big. Put a Shield counter on that, or a card draw engine like Metropolis Angel, and your opponent will be left in a very frustrating situation. Lagrella, the Magpie offers some interesting flexibility for this strategy. Not only does she remove an opponent’s creature; she also gives you the option of stashing away one of your own creatures for the future, when it’ll come back bigger and better.


Mana Fixing


SNC has good fixing at common and uncommon. There’s three different cycles: allied colored dual lands, lands that can be sacrificed for a faction’s basic land, and creatures that can be exiled onto a land to turn it into a faction tri-land (while still being castable as a creature in the later stages of the game).


 


There’s also a few artifact options of varying efficacy:


 


And Red and Green both have a fair amount of Treasure-making capability.


There’s a lot of options here, but what may be most interesting is what’s not here. Unlike Khans of Tarkir, there are no uncommon tri-lands; nor are there a cycle of artifacts that tap for a mana of a faction’s color. In fact, almost none of the options listed here permanently produce three colors of mana. The exception is the self-exiling creature cycle, and note that these creatures put you down a card in the early game.


What to make of this omission? It feels like Wizards is trying to thread the needle of enabling a three color Limited format while discouraging “five color good stuff” decks.


Key Commons and Uncommons


  • White

      • Inspiring Overseer: Drawing a card is such a simple effect that it’s easy to underrate. But it’s good, especially on a flier.
      • Mage’s Attendant: Three mana for 4/3 worth of power and toughness is great; triggering Alliance twice is great; having additional upside is great. I guess that means this card is great.

      • Rumor Gatherer: Any card draw engine is amazing in Limited, including this one.


    • Blue

        • Majestic Metamorphosis: Suit Up was a very strong card in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and this isn’t much different.

          • Out of the Way: Bouncing a creature is strong in an environment full of counters and Alliance effects, especially if you get to draw a card afterwards. And of course this spell is especially amazing against Green.

            • Psychic Pickpocket: Creatures that bounce other creatures when they enter the battlefield are very strong; this one also loots - I mean Connives.


            • Black

                • Corrupt Court Official: This creature’s effect is not negligible, especially in the early stages of the game when your opponent may have to choose between a land that produces their third color and a powerful three-color card. What inches this card’s power level upwards is the abundance of Casualty spells that are looking for a creature to sacrifice.

                  • Deal Gone Bad: The ubiquitous Black common removal spell feels a little less powerful than usual, but in a world of Shield counters this effect is king. Milling yourself may be a good thing as well.

                    • Whack: “But what if my opponent isn’t playing White?” Nope, don’t think that way. There’s no penalty if you target a non-White creature; instead there’s a bonus if you do. And yet again, this spell is great at dealing with creatures with Shield counters.


                    • Red

                        • Sizzling Soloist: A creature that neuters blockers is always worth looking at; one that can do it multiple times or multiple turns is even better. This one has the potential to do both.

                          • Strangle: You can’t really beat this rate!

                            • Wrecking Crew: This creature doesn’t do much except form a strong defensive barrier while still being a good offensive threat. Actually, that sounds pretty good to me.


                            • Green

                                • Bouncer’s Beatdown: This slug in the face is great at three mana, and insane if you can cast it for one.

                                  • Elegant Entourage: A 4/4 for four mana is already good, and this creature is so much better than that. Bonus points if you can sneak in creatures at instant speed.

                                    • Jewel Thief: Perhaps I’m biased because three mana used to simply buy you a vanilla 3/3 creature, but the added upsides on this creature boggles my mind.


                                      Summation


                                      Streets of New Capenna is a complicated set and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options inherent in the plethora of multi-colored cards. Here’s my advice:


                                      • The synergies between mechanics - best exemplified by the five factions - are strong enough that it’s worth drafting around those synergies rather than simply building a “good stuff” deck.
                                      • A good draft strategy will be to focus on a color pair; doing so enables you to avoid the trap of overcommitting into three colors too early. What you can do instead is grab the best cards for your two color strategy, and only creep into a third color once you know what’s open (or if you see a bomb).
                                      • That being said, fixing is far more plentiful than recent Limited sets, so don’t be afraid to splash into a few colors. But I’d advise against focusing on more than two or three colors.
                                      • Removal is weak against creatures with more than three toughness. Plan accordingly.

                                      Good luck!

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